My View / Boyd Walker – A new day in Denver


Last Saturday, local Democrats held their Eigth Congressional District Convention and chose their delegates for the National Convention. 

Before we voted, we split up the Clinton and Barack supporters, and I can report that Clinton supporters elected two woman and one man.  They elected Alexandria City Council member Paul Smedberg, Allida Black from Arlington, and Hazel Rigby, who many of us know has worked very hard to support Mrs. Clinton. Being an Obama supporter, I was not in that part of the building. 

The Clinton campaign rejected any slate, but the week before this election of who we wanted to represent the Obama camp in Denver in August, there appeared a slate of candidates, and this caused a little mini-revolt among the state delegates.  Some it served well, others it did not, but I think the process and the results say a little something about the Obama campaign locally and possibly nationally. 

Why would a slate of candidates cause any ruckus at all?

Because the Barack Obama campaign has reached out through the Internet to have an incredible team of supporters who are willing to work in any jurisdiction, and in any state to help their candidate get elected. They should have pins for every state you have worked in, because clearly it was a badge of honor to have gone into the trenches in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa and Ohio. 

So, it is about people who have never worked in campaigns before signing up and working their fannies off as much as it is about old hands who have been working in the party for years.  

Thank goodness they did not all get up and speak.  But some of those who did blew me out of the deep murky water of this long campaign.

This event was proof that words, and how those words are spoken, do move public opinion.  We started with lessons on history, from people who had been at the calamitous 68 convention, or the 72 convention, where there was a credentials challenge. 

There were many of us, sounding off on emails, who wanted to send people to Denver who represented the new people who have been attracted to this campaign, this movement. 

One person who exemplified this, but who did not win, is a man named Teddy Fikre, who gave a great speech, has raised money, used the power of the Internet and organized Ethiopians for Obama. 

One thing I remember is that he said Northern Virginia has the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia. I hope he helped some of us realize that this is an important community to reach out to, that may be off a lot of radar screens. 
But another speaker, in making the case for himself, pointed out a population that many people would identify with Obama supporters: Youth.  About 20 percent of Obamas supporters are young people.

One generation may look back on the 68 and 72 conventions as their seminal moments, but that he knows when he is older he will look back on the convention of 2008 and feel the same way about it.  One campaign slogan for delegate was A New Day, and it really is a new day in America, filled with youth and energy and hope. 

That is what our local delegation will be sending to Denver.